Q. How are consuming plant life and consuming animal life different?
A. Consuming animal life is different in two primary ways:
First, animals likely feel pain in a very similar way to the way humans feel pain. If plants feel pain, it’s unlikely to be of the same kind or degree as the way humans feel pain. We call this pain sensation capacity “sentience.” Animals are sentient beings, plants are not.
Second, animals eat plants. So consuming animal life isn’t the opposite of consuming plant life, it’s consuming plant life indirectly. That is, it’s consuming plant life filtered through animal life. People who consume animals are consuming, on average, four times the resources of people who consume only plants.
Q. Do humans hold a responsibility to animals, keeping in mind that animals will often kill each other for food, territory or simply out of fear?
A. Yes. For example, just because some people will lie, cheat, and steal doesn’t give you permission to lie, cheat, and steal. The behaviors of others do not dictate your behaviors.
Q. Would eating meat be more acceptable to you if animals were given full lives and then put to sleep towards the end of their lives?
A. Not “more acceptable.” Rather, I’d say that would be “less harmful” than our current methods of animal agriculture.
Q. Do you believe that plants feel a harvester ripping it from the earth?
A. No I do not.
However, even if plants did feel that pain, I’d rather cause less pain than more. By eating lower on the food chain (that is, by eating only plants) I’d be causing less plant pain than someone who eats high on the hog.
In the same way that some people would prefer to continue eating animals, but do it in a kinder, gentler way (they call it “humane”), I’d prefer to continue eating plants, but do it in a kinder, gentler way. And my excuse wouldn’t be because I liked the taste, the way those who argue for humane meat excuse their killing. Their sole reason for continuing to eat meat is that they like the taste – they kill animals purely for pleasure. My excuse for continuing to eat plants (and thus kill them and thus cause pain if they feel it) would be because I had to for my survival.
There is a big difference between killing for survival and killing for pleasure. This is THE key difference between choosing to eat plants or choosing to eat animals.
Those are my answers. What are your answers?